In a bid to curb severe air pollution in the national capital region, the Delhi cabinet Monday passed an electric vehicle policy. The government will provide subsidy to promote e-vehicles, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, adding that an electric vehicle board would be formed to implement the policy.
One of the key highlight areas of the policy is on electric two-wheelers, shared transport vehicles (three-wheelers/buses) and goods carriers/freight vehicles since they contribute to the majority of the vehicular pollution. Under the Delhi Electric Vehicle Policy 2019, the city government is providing a subsidy of Rs 5,000 per kWh of battery capacity on the purchase of two-wheelers. Incentive of up to Rs 5,000 will be offered for scrapping of a non-electric two-wheeler vehicle and switching to an electric vehicle, the chief minister said.
The Delhi government, as part of the goal and impact of the EV policy, is targeting to induct at least 35,000 electric vehicles, 1,000 EVs for last-mile deliveries and 250 public charging/swapping stations in the national capital within a year.
The EV policy further states that over the next five years, the government will likely register at least 5 lakh new EVs in Delhi. The government estimates that this “EV policy will avoid approximately Rs 6,000 crores in oil and liquid natural gas imports and 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, equivalent to avoiding CO2 emissions from nearly 1 lakh petrol cars over their lifetime.”
How will this policy be implemented on the ground?
The government plans to establish a “dedicated EV cell within the Transport Department for effective day-to-day implementation. The funding aspect of the project will be taken from various sources such as Pollution/Diesel Cess, Road Tax, Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) etc. using the ‘Feebate’ concept. Under the Feebate concept, polluting vehicles will incur a surcharge (fee) while efficient ones receive a rebate (bate). “All this will be aggregated under an umbrella, non-lapsable ‘State EV Fund’,” stated the policy statement.
Most importantly, a State EV Board shall be constituted as the apex body for effective monitoring and implementation of the policy.
The Delhi EV Policy 2019 will be valid for three years from the date of notification and the financial incentives and subsidies will come into effect from the date of notification of the policy and will be provided directly to buyers of electric vehicles after the purchase is made. Till then, the present subsidies being offered under Air Ambience Fund of DPCC shall continue, said the statement.
An international think-tank working closely with NITI Aayog for urban mobility is bullish on the new EV policy and said it’s “by far the mist comprehensive sub-national policy that focuses on making EVs affordable to consumers”.
Akshima Ghate, Director, RMI India said: “Delhi’s EV policy will be a game-changer in the EV story of India. Anchored to the objective of improving Delhi’s air quality, it by far the most comprehensive sub-national policy that focuses on making EVs affordable to consumers and giving confidence to the industry. The system-level approach of the policy to vehicle electrification and emphasis on enabling an EV ecosystem will ensure that supportive conditions are in place to enable the much-needed transition to zero-emission mobility in Delhi.”
Since the last two months, Delhi was shrouded under a thick blanket of smog and haze that prompted the Environment Pollution (Prevention) and Control Authority (EPCA) on November 1 to declare a public health emergency. After the emergency was declared, the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) came into force that completely put a halt to all construction activities in the national capital and adjoining regions of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, and Greater Noida. The Delhi government also implemented the Odd-Even road rationing scheme to provide relief. That was also the first time when the air quality had entered emergency levels.
However, the air quality continues to remain in the ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ category. Today, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city at 9.44 am was recorded at 310, which falls in the “very poor” category. An AQI between 0-50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”. An AQI above 500 falls in the “severe-plus” category.
The new EV policy, therefore, is being welcomed by experts across the board as a timely intervention.
“Delhi’s electric vehicle policy comes with the primary goal of bringing down air pollution and that is a well-intentioned vision. Since the majority of the vehicles on the streets are 2 and 3 wheelers, it good that the policy focuses on these vehicle segment. However, the Delhi government needs to focus not just on transportation, but other sectors too. Delhi must plan for a future which is powered from clean energy. A transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewable energy will ultimately make the city more livable and sustainable,” said Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends, a strategic communications initiative that focuses on climate change and clean energy transition.
Commenting on the implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi government’s Odd-Even scheme when air pollution was at its peak, Associate Professor at School of Public Health, University of Queensland, Luke Knibbs said it’s encouraging to see the implementation of such measures in Delhi. “There’s certainly some precedent from other countries that such measures can reduce air pollution levels if they are implemented well and the performance is evaluated. The challenge, however, is that air pollution has many complex sources, some of which are far away, and reducing traffic or construction may not lead to improvements if emissions from other sources, such as landscape fires, increase. Ideally, there would be measures tailored to all of the major sources in Delhi, although this is much easier said than done,” he said.